1/ The US is known as a modern country with a huge medical system, but now it seems to be the worst hit by the coronavirus crisis (1.4m cases and 80,500 deaths). Are the problems rooted in neoliberalism or do all problems just come from Trump?

The problems are rooted in neoliberalism. Since 1991, with the collapse of the socialist bloc, there has been no counterweight to capitalism, allowing western governments to cut social welfare and increase the wealth of the property owners. Trump has pushed this process to an extreme. Wishful thinking, hoping the virus would just disappear, resulted in a delay in shutting down the economy. Without a universal medical care system, this has led to a catastrophe, leaving tens of millions unemployed, and, where hundreds of thousands are homeless, a higher rate of mortality than other countries.

2/ Will Trump be elected again?

Predicting US elections is very difficult, given ongoing attempts to deprive the votes of millions in various states, and given the current lack of a clear program from either of the two main parties. Biden is a lackluster candidate, lacking energy and already muddled in his thinking. Both candidates are the oldest in US presidential history and are unappealing to many citizens, so a poor or good turnout could decide the results, rather than giving the winner a clear mandate. Only 56% of voters turned out in 2016.

I think logically that Trump shouldn't be reelected, given his disgraceful conduct, and the fact that he is universally disliked abroad. But then I look at US history, and find more than one past president who was just as unprincipled and whose actions as president were divisive, even criminal, without any repercussions. The worst was no doubt Andrew Jackson, whose duplicity, history of genocide against natives and land speculation was deplorable. I wrote about this comparison. Trump has a picture of Jackson in his office and boasts of him as a like-minded leader. So it is quite possible that Trump will be reelected as a populist whose uncivilized conduct is admired as in keeping with American rough and ready justice, the American version of democracy.

3/ Some American politicians talk about the priority of the US economy over people’s lives. Is it the priority of political system of US?

Yes. Adam Smith, whose Wealth of Nations extols the 'invisible hand' of market capitalism, warned both about the dangers of capitalists colluding against the public interest, but equally against businessmen being involved in government. Trump on the contrary boasts of being a rich businessman. The US is completely governed by business interests. Trump's unwillingness to introduce quarantine measures earlier was directly a result of his priority of business over public interests.

4/ How do you see the post-coronavirus World? Will it be different?

The aftermath of the economic shutdown will be grim everywhere. The first victim will be neoliberalism. The state is the only force capable of uniting the country and providing relief. Trump himself is probably bankrupt (for the fifth time), his casinos and jet-setter hotels empty. There is no leader in America that can address the crisis.

Though Israel is not implicated in this crisis, its stranglehold on American politics has poisoned it. Instead of leading the world in recovery, Trump has continued his divisive policies, against Iran, Russia, China, the Palestinians, his only friend in the world Netanyahu, whose criminality fits with Trump's. Just as the Democrats provide no alternative to Trump on the important issues of international affairs, they provide no real alternative to the current neoliberalism or what will take its place, a neo-neoliberalism, which will continue to keep the banks and Wall Street afloat at the expense of the people.

5/ What do you think about actions of some countries like Iran? Who admires Iran despite sanctions?

Iran has a strong state that met the crisis firmly, despite increased sanctions from the US. Most people in the West merely follow the anti-Iran media and governments, in the spell of Zionism. But increasingly, calls for sanctions relief are heard. Anyone who supports the Palestinians must acknowledge the vital role Iran plays there. Sadly, the understanding of the middle east is poor. People just aren't aware of the perfidy of the US and Israel from the founding of Israel in 1948. 

Western leaders and media talk about Iran's interference in middle east affairs as if it has no right to work with fellow Muslims to prevent US-Israel from shaping world affairs in their interests. The farce being played out is of invaders, latter-day Crusaders, stealing Palestinian lands, invading and attacking Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, supporting the corrupt, incompetent Saudi royalty, etc. Iran tries its best to counter this, despite all other middle east governments carefully toeing the US-Israel line.

Trump's order to assassinate General Suleimani was not approved of outside the US, but it is seen as just one more criminal act by an unpredictable bully. Israel's ongoing theft is buried in the news. Iran's principled, brave actions, not yielding to US bullying, its warships hovering near Iran's borders, ready to pounce, can only be admired. Other world leaders, world citizens, would like to protest, but are cowards. I think it is fair to say that most westerners grudgingly respect Iran through all this.

But no one dares to applaud Iran publicly, or to embrace Iran's principled stands. The western elites have never been richer, and they do not want to rock the boat. The US has, for 75 years, intimidated and undermined other countries at will. Has this imperial virus reached a plateau? Have we reached a turning point with both the imperial and the physical viruses infecting the world?

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html